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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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When Can a Mistrial Occur?


According to the United States Constitution, any person who faces criminal charges has a right to a trial by jury. This is one of the many inalienable rights people have as American citizens. A criminal conviction can only occur if a jury finds the defendant guilty and issues the verdict. If a jury is not present or if a trial ends before a jury can reach their decision, the case is considered a mistrial.

Mistrials can and do occur for a variety of reasons. The common element to a mistrial is that the defendant’s right to a fair trial has been somehow compromised. Mistrials commonly occur due to any of the following scenarios:

Improper conduct / biased conduct of a jury member

Jurors go through a long and fairly thorough screening process in order to ensure a fair trial. Occasionally, a juror with ulterior or less than impartial motives will slip through. If a juror is found to exhibit improper conduct that can jeopardize a defendant’s right to a fair trial, such as speaking about the case, the case can be determined as a mistrial. Moreover, if a juror is found to exhibit signs of bias or an ulterior motive, the case can be deemed a mistrial.

An indecisive (hung) jury

Occasionally, a jury will deliberate on whether or not the defendant is guilty. When the jury fails to reach a verdict, this is determined to be a mistrial.

Death of a key member

Should a key member working the trial die, the case can be determined a mistrial. This could be a juror, the defense attorney, a prosecutor, or the judge.

Trial errors

Trial errors could lead to a mistrial, such as inadmissible evidence or other fundamental errors with the presented case that cannot be easily addressed by a jury.

Every citizen has a right to a fair trial for criminal charges. When a citizen does not get a fair trial, it is important to know that they still have rights. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who could help. Contact the law offices of John W. Tumelty today to schedule your case consultation.

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